Cole - I'm glad I stayed

West Ham striker looking forward to play-off campaign

Carlton Cole: Still happy at West Ham but desperate to clinch promotion

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Carlton Cole has insisted he has no regrets about staying at West Ham as he looks to fire the club through the play-offs and back to the Premier League.

A number of West Ham's leading players were expected to leave Upton Park following their relegation last summer and Cole came close to joining Stoke.

However, he eventually decided not to go anywhere and has relished the challenge of trying to get the Hammers back into the top flight at the first attempt.

Sam Allardyce's men missed out on automatic promotion after finishing third in the Championship and begin their play-off campaign with a semi-final first leg at Cardiff on Thursday night.

"It would mean the world to me to take West Ham back to the Premier League,"Cole said in The Sun.

"That is the task I had at the start of the season. I could have left but there was no point because I'm so happy. I wanted to make an impact and help the team get to where we belong.

"It would mean a lot to reach Wembley. They say that the best way to go up is to win the play-off final. Hopefully we'll do that."

O'Neill hope

Midfielder Gary O'Neil is also determined to help West Ham clinch an immediate return to the Premier League, but is still disappointed about missing out on a place in the top two and wary of the threat Cardiff will present.

"We were only one win away from going up and you can count those five games here on the trot where we should have won," said O'Neil.

"We were up against Middlesbrough at home with a few minutes to go and against Doncaster and only drew with Watford.

"They have probably cost us a promotion place. It was the home draws that cost us, really.

"Cardiff have got in the play-offs the other way, by scraping in with a win on Saturday, so they'll be buzzing that they've made it.

"We've come the other way, from second into third. It'll be a tough tie."